Grading the Finest Sparkling Wines of 2017

For our latest round of reviews, we asked our national wine panel to rate sparkling wines. Below are 52 bottles, from current or past vintages, that they deemed worthy enough to sip and review for our 2017 top sparklers list.

As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which can vary from store to store and market to market). Unless noted otherwise, the price reflects a 750-ml. bottle.

If you’re a beverage professional with a specialty in wine and you’re interested in participating in the panel, please contact managing editor Kyle Swartz at or 203-855-8499 x2225.

Rating System

Five Stars (100-92): A top-flight wine, superior in taste and character, and providing a superior price/value ratio.

Four Stars (91-86): A very good wine and an excellent value. A wine for which customers will keep coming back.

Five Stars

(96) Villa Sandi, Vigne La Rivetta, Cartizze, Prosecco Superiore 2016 (Italy). From the Valdobbiadene, D.O.C.G. If your customers think that prosecco is just a low-price bottle of Italian fizz, this wine will set them on entirely different path. Cartizze is a vineyard shared by some of the region’s top producers, and Villa Sandi knows exactly what to do with these grapes. Elegant, fine bubbles help showcase the quality of the wine. It is an exquisite example of world-class sparkling wine from northern Italy. ($45)

(95) Bartolomiol “Miol” Prosecco Brut NV (Italy). A classic style from the original production zone of Treviso in Italy’s Veneto. Aromatic, crisp, dry and fully “spumante,” it’s the perfect aperitif by itself or will be an ideal base for the famous Bellini. Also excellent with Sunday brunch. ($19.99)

(95) Champagne Collett NV, Aÿ (France). An outstanding illustration of a non-vintage Champagne, from a smaller-but-high-quality producer in Champagne. Toasty brioche notes accent the lovely fruit character. Well balanced, with good, food-friendly acidity. ($49)

(95) Gruet Blanc De Noirs NV (New Mexico). The French family Gruet founded their winery in Albuquerque, NM, more than 25 years ago, producing delightful wines by methode champenois using traditional Champagne grapes. Gruet’s Blanc De Noirs is 75% pinot noir and 25% chardonnay. It has a lovely pale salmon/coral color with a floral bouquet and hints of strawberry, peach and sweet spice on the palate. Its finish is long with racy, sweet/tart acidity. A simply beautiful style and a great value. ($19.99)

(95) Gruet Brut NV (New Mexico). Made by a family with old ties to Champagne, you will swear that’s exactly what you are drinking. Crisp, almond, stone fruit and citrus, the bubbles are tiny and the finish creamy. Truly a best buy! ($16.95)

(95) Jaume Serra Cristolino Rosé Brut NV (Spain). Produced by the Champagne method from 60% pinot noir and 40% trepat in the world’s largest sparkling-wine region. A bright ruby color leads to a bouquet of violets and not-quite-ripe berries. Bold, rich flavors of cherry and strawberry coat the palate and linger in the lip-smacking, very dry finish. This wine is surprisingly full bodied and will complement grilled salmon, prawns, paella, or even barbeque-sauce dishes. Try it with fresh fruits, or with brunch. It is also an amazing value. ($9.99)

(95) Jean Michel Fichet “Blanc de Meunier” Brut 2008 (France). Overlooking the Taittinger estate, Olivier Michel and his wife produce stellar Champagne, none more unique than this 100% pinot meunier expression. More fruity aromas than you ever expect from Champagne and equally complex on the palate, the grip, length and character of this Champagne will shock you for the price. ($52.99)

(95) Giro Ribot Masia Parera Brut Reserva NV (Spain). A truly superb and elegant style from the Ribot family in Penedes. From 50% macabeo, 30% xarel-lo, and 20% chardonnay, produced by methode traditionelle. The wine is aged 12 to 15 months in bottle and not disgorged until ordered. There is a constant flow of tiny bubbles, delightful to the eye. There are hints of wildflower and truffle with a slight toastiness on the bouquet. It has a rich, creamy texture with nuances of baked apple and pear. The finish is long, crisp and slightly toasty/yeasty. You might think this is much more expensive than it is. ($14.99)

(94) Chateau Frank, Blanc de Noirs 2012 (New York). From a well-established New York wine pioneer from the Finger Lakes, this is one of the top medal winners in the sparkling wine category at competitions across the country. It’s easy to see why: Plenty of fruit, with an interesting blend of spice on the nose and palate that provide a paradox. It’s refined enough to sip and contemplate, yet so tasty, you may just want to gulp it down. A top domestic producer. ($34.99)

(94) Luca Grucci Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG (Italy). Aromas of peach, apple and citrus fruit with a creamy palate of peach, mineral and flowers. Very good acidity, clean and crisp. A well-balanced finish with vibrant citrus, slate and rose petal flavors. ($20)

(94) Champagne Nicolas Feuillette Brut Rosé NV (France). A shining example of why Champagne Nicolas Feuillette is the top-selling Champagne in France. A lovely, pale salmon in the glass, and hints of cherry and strawberry wafting up from the glass, entice you to taste it. And your efforts will be well rewarded, with wonderful texture, weight and a lingering finish. ($53)

(93) Nicolas Feuillatte Demi-Sec Rosé (France). An amazingly elegant Champagne with a gentle sweetness and delicate bubbles. Perfect for the special occasion or with some berry fruits and chocolate. ($56.99)

(93) RivaRose, Brut Rose NV (France). From Provence, grenache and syrah artfully blended in the classic French tradition. Beautiful in the glass with fine bubbles. Reflecting its Mediterranean heritage, it’s the perfect sparkling wine for the beach. ($21.99)

(93) Guidobono VSQ Segretevigne 2013 (Italy). One of just two sparkling wines brought into the U.S. made from 100% nebbiola. Brut style with zero dosage. Naturally bottle fermented, this smooth-as-silk, fresh sparkler will even get your uncle who hates sparkling wine to say “wow.” ($24.95)

(93) Fattoria Moretto Lambrusco 2014 (Italy). I know what you’re thinking: Lamrbusco?! Trust us when we say this is a game changer. This off-dry, sparkling red wine from Emilia-Romagna is the lambrusco that will change your mind. Fresh red fruit flavors abound from your glass and the finish keeps you coming back for more. Not to mention it is organically farmed, which is great for everyone involved. Bring this to any party and be the most popular person there. ($18.99)

(93) Cuvée, Vertice 2010 (Portugal). Who would have thought it? From the Douro Valley, where port reigns supreme, an elegant, supple sparkling wine. Produced from a blend of native varieties, the wine is aged for 18 months, providing texture and complexity. For a stunning change of pace from what your customers may expect, this is an educational and outstandingly delicious wine. ($19)

(92) Vadio Brut NV (Portugal). A unique wine as far as sparkling wines go. The different vintages of the base wines are aged in a solera type of system, which means that the oldest wines contribute some of their characteristics to the younger portions of the blend. Elegant, with bright fruit notes, it’s a great summer sparkler, and a perfect aperitif. ($24)

(92) Armani Prosecco Extra Dry NV (Italy). A plush and refreshing prosecco with an expressive mix of apple blossom and lemon zest. Ripe and bold fruit combine with savory acidity to give the wine balance, texture and depth. ($17)

(92) Szigeti Brut Sparkling Grüner Veltliner NV (Austria). Grüner veltliner is well established as a still wine, but here’s a GV with lots of energy and personality. Plenty bubbly, with a degree of elegance, with good fruit, and hints of spice. If you’re a fan of sparkling wine with shellfish, and other delicately flavored foods, here’s your perfect wine to pair with them. ($20)

(92) McPherson Cellars Sparkling NV (Texas). 100% Texas grapes sourced from a single vineyard by Kim McPherson and then transported to California to be completed by his brother John, also a talented winemaker. Clean finish, good acidity, and great balance. Begs for a second glass. Only 780 cases produced. ($20.99)

(92) Canella Prosecco DOCG Conegliano Valdobbiadene 2015 (Italy). Sourced from the very heart of the prosecco district at Conegliano, and rated as a DOCG. Beautiful range of aromas, including mandarin orange, pear and lemon zest. More body and structure than most. Interesting hint of cinammon on the finish. ($25.99).

(92) Schramsberg Blanc De Blancs 2013 (California). This true brut style offers the mouthfeel of a 100% chardonnay sparkler. The balance of textures and fruit, with dry freshness, make this the cream of the crop for Napa sparkling wine. ($39.99)

(92) Dei Signori Prosecco Brut NV (Italy). A dry wine, yet laden with staple characteristics of white flowers, peach blossom and slight notes of Bartlett pear. Its dry nature lends to the hazelnut notes and a smoky sense in this bold prosecco. ($20)

(92) Villa Conchi Brut NV (Spain). This is a bright, fresh and tree-fruit-driven cava has a soft, toasty almond finish to balance the refreshing nose and palate. The prominent notes of lemon zest and apple skin drive and define this fruit-forward wine. ($15)

(92) Jacqueline Leonne Rosé Brut NV (New Mexico). A sparkling wine with subtlety, minerality and power that exceed expectations. The rosé character of this wine grows as richness and red fruit notes like raspberries flesh out the finish. ($15)

(92) Gruet Brut Rosé NV (New Mexico). Crafted from 100% pinot noir, this delicate and rich bubbly is bursting with aromas and flavors of wild strawberry. Easy acidity on the finish makes this a favorite for parties and holiday ham or turkey. ($16)

Four Stars

(91) Santi Nello Prosecco Valdobbiadene NV (Italy). White flowers, golden apples, hazelnut and almonds layer and show the pedigree of Valdobbiadene. The wine builds richness, while keeping present the fruit-forward, softer side that is more common to this style. ($15)

(91) Natincò Moscato d’Asti 2015 (Italy). From Piedmont, a great example of what a well done, low-alcohol, dessert-style of sparkling can bring to the table. With finesse and character, it can be a great end-of-meal wine, or sipped on its own, when you’d like something sweet, yet delicate. ($17)

(91) Jean Noel Haton Brut Reserve Champagne (France). Lively and creamy with a subtle, smoky base note underscoring the flavors of lemon zest and white peach. Just a touch of yeasty notes in a subtle and pleasant way on the tightly knit, spiced finish. ($50)

(91) Bodkin Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc (California). America’s first sparkling sauvignon blanc is a treat to sparkling lovers. The toastiness of Champagne but the citrusy, freshness of sauvignon blanc, you have to drink a full glass of this Sonoma wine to believe it’s real. One of the most unique wine experiences you will have this year. ($20.99)

(91) Armani Sparkling Rosé Veneto (Italy). This refreshing, crisp sparkler boasts notes of lilacs, strawberry and raspberry with a fruit-forward structure. The mouthfeel is smooth, approachable, with a bright savory mineral backbone that keeps the wine bright. ($16)

(91) Insito Extra Brut Cava Reserva NV (Spain). Powerful and razor sharp, the heavy lime juice is complemented by candied lemon notes that are prominent. Slight spice and white pepper notes supplement the vibrant savory citrus acidity. ($15)

(91) Jacqueline Leonne Brut NV (New Mexico). Layered flavors of lemon and spice build to a powerful-yet-sleek wine with a nutty toasty element that is reminiscent of the finesse of Champagne. The lengthy finish of apple and minerality showcase superb winemaking. ($15)

(91) 2015 Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Aqui (Italy). A delightfully festive sparkler with hints of rose petals and ripe, red raspberries. Even the non-bubbly drinker would like this with desserts of dark chocolate, cheesecake and spring salads with goat cheese and cranberries. ($18.99)

(91) Jacques Pelvas Blanc de Blanc Brut (France). Great marriage of ugni blanc and colombard, with citrus flavors of lemon and grapefruit, with floral notes of peach blossoms. Great bubbles linger on the tongue, with very balanced acidity and fruit. Remarkable value. ($16.99)

(91) Tosca Prosecco DOC (Italy). Floral and fruity aromas with hints of fresh peaches and apples. Refreshing and well balanced with a crisp, dry, fruity finish. ($15)

(91) Dei Signori Prosecco Extra Dry NV (Italy). A juicy, nectarine-laden prosecco that is full of pleasant floral, ginger and lychee notes. The Mosel-like acidity keeps the profile together, and this wine is as refreshing as it is deep and complex with a firm finish. ($20)

(90) Monmousseau Cremant De Loire Blend of Chenin Blanc (France). A complex nose and palate of green apple, citrus and fresh peaches leading to a creamy finish. All the grapes are hand harvested and selected. Made in the traditional method. One of the better cremants. ($15.95)

(90) Rivata Prosecco (Italy). The fruit-forward initial flavor of this Venetian wine is followed by a fruit-centric finish, keeping strong notes of green apples, lemons and limes. Lively acidity and a juicy texture balance out the bright sweetness and keep the wine well composed. ($12)

(90) St Reine Blanc de Blanc Brut NV (France). This French sparkler has a green-apple focus but is laced with nutty spices and a creamy texture that supports the fruit and complements it. The wine is light but rich, pleasant and easy drinking with homage to Champagne in structure and biscuit finish. ($13)

(90) ReLusso Rosso Frizzante NV (Italy). A fruit-forward fizzy Piedmont red that is packed with fresh raspberries, bright cherries, baked plums and juicy strawberry notes. Pleasant low alcohol and cool service temperature makes this light, fresh wine enjoyable and easy drinking. ($13)

(90) Szigeti Sekt Neusiedlersee (Austria). Done in the classic method champenoise style, with select grapes sourced within the district. Blended from chardonnay, pinot blanc and blaufrankisch. Balanced acidity, with hints of cherry blossoms on the nose. Fine bubbles linger on the palate. Very well crafted. ($36.99)

(90) Bellussi Superiore Extra Dry NV (Italy). This bubbly is light, smooth and easy to quaff. Aromatic hints of pear and ripe apple add to the hints of fruitiness on the finish. Try it with roast pork with apples and fennel. ($15)

(90) Paladin Prosecco Extra Dry Millesimato DOC 2015 (Italy). A bouquet of fresh fruit with apple, citrus and pear notes dominating. Zesty bubbles linger nicely on the palate. Lighter style, with just 11% alcohol. ($19.49)

(90) L’conti Blanquette de Limoux (France). Limoux is one of the best regions to get into sparkling wine that drinks well above its price, and this wine is no exception. This blend of mauzac, chenin blanc and chardonnay screams with liveliness in the glass. It has wonderful green apple and pear flavors and a dry finish. ($13.99)

(90) Castell de Sant Pau Cava (Spain). This charming, elegant sparkling wine is your best bet to enter the world of cava and become hooked. The floral bouquet rides slowly into a delicate palate, ending with a clean, dry finish. Made from all-white grapes, so blanc de blanc sparkling lovers should try their take at this wonderfully priced cava. ($12.99)

(90) Marchese dell’Elsa Moscato d’Asti (Italy). Spring apple with candied orange zest mix with vibrant acidity to lift the strong peach notes front and center. The wine has a luscious sweetness and a fresh, zesty mouthfeel that keeps this wine interesting and approachable. ($13)

(89) Wedding Oaks Bridal Bliss 2015 (Texas). Only 381 cases produced of this frizzante-style sparking. 100% muscat canelli sourced from a single vineyard in the Texas High Plains AVA. Honeysuckle and pear flavors balance a hint of minerality. Easy drinking, and perfect for those hot afternoons. ($25.99)

(89) Barefoot Bubbly Pinot Grigio NV (California). Affordable party and picnic sparkler. Light and easy to sip with hints of citrus and orange blossoms. Great with appetizers. ($8.99)

(89) J Cuvee 20 (California). A Sonoma sparkling with creamy soft bubbles complimented by hints of Meyer lemon, honeysuckle and pear. The dance of bubbles to fruit is well choreographed and a true delight. ($28.99)

(89) Alfredo Bertolani Lambrusco Rose Emilia-Romagna DOC 2015 (Italy). Forget about the inexpensive lambrusco we all drank years ago. The Italians always kept the best for themselves—until now. Fun, easy drinking frizzante style has beautiful color and fizz. Older hillside vines yield notes of raspberries, cream and grapefruit notes. Perfect for the weekend. ($19.49)

(87) Zardetto Brut Prosecco Private Cuvee (Italy). Artful blend of glera, chardonnay, and a kiss of muscat for a truly unique style that has crisp acidity with a touch of sweetness. Citrus and grapefruit notes dominate the nose and lead to a clean finish. Perfect with Gulf oysters. ($13.99)



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